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Earth's Moon May Have An Atmosphere Billion Years Ago; New Study Suggests

by Elon A. / Oct 09, 2017 10:56 AM EDT
The Moon - the Earth's natural Satellite

Recently, the Earth's moon does not have much on an atmosphere. However, it may have had previously. A new study has found that it has a prominent atmosphere 3 billion to 4 billion years ago when volcanic eruptions spewed giant clouds of gas above the lunar surface.

In the present day, the moon is covered in dead volcanoes and dark maria, or even plains that consist of hardened lava. Thus, the lunar atmosphere is so thin that technically, it is not even an atmosphere. Instead, it is considered an exosphere. It has molecules that are gravitationally bound to the moon but are too sparse to behave like a gas.

A new study that has been published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, suggests that the moon's ancient volcanoes produced a temporary atmosphere that lingered for 70 million years. It is before it dissipating into space. The research was conducted by the scientists from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Hunter in Huntsville Alabama, together with the Lunar and Planetary Institute, according to Astronomy.

In line, the researchers collected the samples of volcanic glasses by the Apollo astronauts in the 1970s. It revealed that the magma beneath the lunar surface billions of years ago. The LPI said in a statement that "carried gas components, such as carbon monoxide, the ingredients for water, sulfur, and other volatile species," according to Scientific American.

As follows, the researchers calculated how much gas rose from the lavas that flowed from the lunar volcanoes. They then determined that enough gasses accumulated the moon form an atmosphere. The atmosphere then grew faster than it could escape into space.

The officials from LPI said that the findings may have huge implications for future explorations of the moon. They added that "quantifies a source of volatiles that may have been trapped from the atmosphere into cold, permanently shadowed regions near the lunar poles. Thus, may provide a source of ice suitable for a sustained lunar exploration program."

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